Our Practice Areas
Estate Planning and Probate Attorneys In Beaufort, SC
A THOUGHTFUL ESTATE PLAN IS A GIFT TO YOUR LOVED ONES
When the time comes for you to plan for the inevitable “Death and Taxes,” schedule a consultation with our Estate Planning and Probate attorneys at Harvey and Battey.
Attorneys Eugene Parrs and Ashley Amundson focus on guiding clients through their difficult times by informed counseling and planning. Their goal is for you to encounter your trying and often emotional periods with the peace of mind that can only come from proper preparation. Harvey & Battey can offer you a full range of estate planning and estate settlement services.
WILLS AND TRUSTS
Each client has unique estate planning goals. In reaching these goals, we provide the following services to our clients:
- Living Trusts
- Durable Powers of Attorney
- Health Care Powers of Attorney
- Declarations of a Desire for A Natural
- Death (i.e., living wills)
- HIPAA Authorizations for Health Information
- Estate Tax Planning
For clients whose assets are great enough to face estate tax exposure, we may suggest more sophisticated arrangements, such as:
- Private Charitable Foundations
- Qualified Personal Residence Trusts (QPRTs)
- Charitable Remainder Trusts
- GRITs and GRATs
- IRA Trusts
- Family Limited Partnerships
- Multistate Capability
Our estate planning and probate attorneys have a wealth of knowledge, experience, and compassion to give you peace of mind during the estate planning process. Attorney Eugene Parrs has had more than 40 years of experience and is licensed in South Carolina, New York, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Attorney Ashley Amundson is a former probate judge for a neighboring county, having served in that role for nearly twelve years. She is licensed to practice law in South Carolina and North Carolina. Together, both Eugene Parrs and Ashley Amundson give Harvey & Battey the capability to serve our clients who have multi-state interests.
COMMON ESTATE PLANNING & PROBATE QUESTIONS
Q: What happens if I die without a will in South Carolina?
A: If you die without a will in South Carolina, state law dictates who receives the assets of your estate. For example, if you are married with no children, your spouse inherits your entire probate estate. If you are married with children, your spouse inherits half and your children inherit the other half. If you are unmarried with children, your children inherit the entire estate. If you have no spouse and no children, your parents or their issue (i.e., your siblings) inherit your assets.
Q: What does a will control?
A: A Last Will and Testament is an important estate planning tool that everyone over the age of 18 should have. It allows the person making the will (the “testator”) to designate who will receive assets and allows the testator to select a personal representative who will handle estate distribution. People are often surprised to learn that a will controls the distribution of only probate assets. Probate assets include but are not limited to:
- Real estate owned individually or with one or more co-owners as tenants in common. Determining how real estate is held requires a review of the deed for the property;
- Stocks and bonds;
- Bank accounts owned individually (without a payable on death designation);
- Cash and notes receivable;
- Life insurance payable to the estate only (i.e., without a living beneficiary);
- Vehicles owned individually or by two or more persons with the word “and” appearing on the title between the names;
- Household goods (if the decedent died unmarried).
Other assets pass outside of probate and are not controlled by the will. Examples of non-probate assets include but are not limited to:
- Real estate owned as joint tenants with right of survivorship;
- Real estate in which decedent held a life estate;
- Joint bank accounts;
- Accounts with a payable on death (POD) or transfer on death (TOD) designation;
- Titled assets with the word “or” between two owners; and
- Insurance proceeds payable to a beneficiary.
Contact us to set up your free consultation where we’ll discuss your specific situation and circumstances.
Q: Do I have to open an estate for my loved one who died?
A: Probate is required only if there are probate assets; most people have at least one asset that will require probate. Non-probate assets such as those with rights of survivorship or beneficiary designations do not require probate. If the decedent’s probate assets are valued at less than $25,000.00, and there is no real property, assets may be distributed pursuant to an Affidavit for Collection (also known as a small estate affidavit) filed with the Probate Court. This does not require the opening of an estate. If the decedent owned probate assets valued at more than $25,000.00 and/or probate real estate of any value, you must open a regular estate for the decedent.
Q: How long does probate of an estate take in South Carolina?
A: In South Carolina, state law dictates that an estate for a decedent who died within the prior 12 months is subject to a creditor claim period. Estates must remain open for this period, which is the shorter of (1) 8 months after a notice to creditors is published; or (2) one year from the decedent’s date of death. Upon expiration of this time, the personal representative may proceed to distribute the assets and complete estate administration. The duration of probate can vary widely, depending on factors such as the complexity of estate assets and the contentiousness of the parties involved. At a minimum, you should plan for estate administration to take approximately one year.
Q: Do I need a lawyer to make a will in South Carolina?
A: No, the law does not require you to have a lawyer draft your will. Often, however, wills drafted without a lawyer may be invalid or may not fully accomplish the drafter’s goals. We always recommend consulting an attorney when preparing your will since they have the knowledge and experience to advise your plan and help you reach your goals.
Q: Does a will have to be filed with the court in SC?
A: Yes, a will must be filed with the Probate Court within thirty days of the decedent’s death in South Carolina. Wills do not need to be filed prior to death.